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The Benefit of Knowing Your People

For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. —Romans 1:11-12

I came across this passage in my devotional early one Sunday morning. As I read these words, honest and sobering questions flooded my thoughts: “This is true for Paul, but is this true of you and your congregation? Is it? Do you long to see them? Are you using the spiritual gift God has given you to strengthen the church? Are you and your congregation mutually encouraged by each other’s faith on a weekly basis?”

These are questions all pastors should ask themselves and truthfully answer. My hope is that you and I realize the need to faithfully live this out in our own context, and that we beg God to make this true for us as it was for Paul.

“For I long to see you”

In the beginning of this letter Paul writes that he longs to see the people of the church in Rome. What both convicted and amazed me about this is that at the end of the letter he shows us why he longed for them. In Romans 16:3-16, Paul names over 30 different people that he wanted to see. He knew them by name and he knew specific things about them to pray for. In a beautiful way, we could even view chapter 16 as his prayer guide for the church in Rome.

As I read through those verses, I was deeply convicted of my own prayers—or lack thereof—for the people God has entrusted to me to lead on a weekly basis. Paul's longing had brought about an increased prayer life for these men and and women that he longed to be with. In order for this to be true for us we need to know the people we’re leading. We need to get to know the men and women by name who sit, stand, and fill the seats of our worship services. More than that we need to be praying for them, and praying for them often.

“That I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you”

With these words Paul tells the people he wants to use what God has given him to strengthen them. In Romans 12, Paul talks about prophecy, leadership, teaching and several other gifts that some of you who read this actually have. As worship pastors, we get the opportunity to pair this talent of leading worship with the specific spiritual gifts God has given us, and God uses it to strengthen the body.

For example:

• If prophecy: You speak the truth of God’s word and sing songs inspired by God’s word with boldness, strength, humility, and from a place of pure belief, and without hesitation.
• If teaching: You take a moment to pause and connect hearts to lyrics simply by teaching the why behind the songs or sharing their own personal convictions.
• If administration: You lead a well-crafted, well-thought out framework and purposed order to the liturgy that aids in authentic worship.

When our gifts are paired with our God-given talent to lead people in worship, it strengthens the body of believers that we are leading.

“That is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each others faith, both yours and mine”

There’s something beautiful that happens when believers gather together in a worship service. We get a glimpse of this mutual encouragement Paul talks about in verse 12. As worship leaders we get a front row seat to be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. You see, as you get to know the people in your congregation and pray for them, you actually look at and lead them differently.

You are encouraged by the faith of your sister, who was just diagnosed with cancer, singing these words with pure joy on her face: “In Christ alone my hope is found. He is my light my strength, my song…”

Your eyes notice that student or adult you’ve been mentoring and praying for that has an addiction to both masturbation and pornography. You’re encouraged by their faith as you see and hear them shouting the words: “Now my debt is paid. It is paid in full by the precious blood that my Jesus spilled. Now the curse of sin has no hold on me. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed…”

You’re encouraged by the faith of the couple that has just had their second miscarriage. As tears fall down their cheeks they embrace one another singing these words: “There is strength within the sorrow, there is Beauty in our tears. You meet us in our mourning, with a love that cast out fear…”

By getting to know the people you lead, mutual encouragement through each other’s faith is inevitable and will happen every single week.

For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. —Romans 1:11-12

Join me in praying these verses. Let’s beg God to make this true of us, and ask him to give us the grace to faithfully live this out. Don’t wait: pray now…

Jimmy McNeal (@JimmyMcSings) has a sincere desire for the body of Christ to devote their whole lives to worshipping God both in and outside the walls of the church building. Serving as one of the Worship Pastors at The Austin Stone, God continues to challenge Jimmy and his bandmates to live out the call He has placed on their lives to love, serve, live in community, and live on mission. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife Staci, and son Jackson.

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